M Karunanidhi, DMK president and former Tamil Nadu CM, dies at 94 in Chennai hospital

M Karunanidhi, DMK president and former Tamil Nadu chief minister, died at a private hospital in Chennai on Tuesday. He was 94.

Karunanidhi was shifted to Kauvery Hospital on July 28 after being treated at his home in Chennai’s Gopalapuram for fever and urinary tract infection. MK Stalin, Karunanidhi’s political heir and DMK working president, appealed to party workers to maintain peace as he and his siblings visited the hospital every day.

Hundreds of policemen guarded the hospital and the road leading to Gopalapuram, sometimes caning crowds or appealing them to disperse. Stalin on August 1 had said 21 DMK workers had died “unable to bear the shock of” Karunanidhi’s illness.

A five-term chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi was a multi-faceted personality — a top politician, a star scriptwriter for Tamil movies, author and an impressive orator.

He is survived by sons Stalin, MK Alagiri, Muthu, Tamilarasu and daughters Kanimozhi and Selvi.

Born on June 3, 1924, the iconic Dravidian leader had recently entered his 50th year as the chief of DMK, making him the longest-serving president of a political party in India.

Karunanidhi was first elected to the Tamil Nadu assembly in 1957 and last served as chief minister at the age of 82 in 2006 when the DMK-Congress alliance swept to power. He never lost an election.

The leader was visited at the hospital by several senior politicians including vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Tamil Nadu chief minister K Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam, and actor-politician Kamal Hassan.

Thousands of DMK workers had swamped the hospital’s neighbourhood after hearing about the leader’s health. Police had set up barricades around the hospital and only very senior leaders were allowed to visit the hospital.

HT




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